4 months ago, I was sitting in the Umbra advising office trying to finalize my schedule, and I decided to choose a class called “Placemaking”. This was a concept I had never experienced nor heard of, and I figured this class would expose me to new concepts and ideas. At the end of the semester I can honestly say that this class has done that, and more.
This has been a special class because all of our projects are based on the needs of the neighborhood that we worked in, Borgo Bello. Why is that special? We actually engaged and interacted with a local Italians to ensure a more efficient use of their neighborhood space. One space in particular held a special place in our hearts, and we devoted most of our time and effort into transforming that space.
In order to understand how to transform the terrace, we read many articles from some of the best “placemakers” in history. Jane Jacobs was one of these iconic figures, and her previous work offered valuable information that we used when considering the future of the terrace. The bulk of Jacobs’ work that we read focused on the idea of sidewalk safety and the characteristics of a successful sidewalk. Concepts like “eyes on the street”, having strangers around, and lighting are all things we considered when transforming the terrace. We also wanted to provide objects that would help children “take the streets back”. One example of this is today when we dug the tires into the ground. Hopefully children will feel a sense of pride in their “streets” after spending more time on the terrace.
While on the topic of children, I wanted to reflect on the experience I had when visiting the elementary school. I was lucky enough to spend a day in class with second and third graders, all of whom shared with us their ideas regarding the Kaki project. The Kaki project is a global mission that focuses on spreading the message of love and peace across different countries. Listening to the words of the children was one of the most moving experiences I had in the class. The words were simple, but the concepts were large. Their message of love and peace has stuck with me since being there, and I only hope that they grow up projecting the same message. Our world needs it.
My main takeaway from this class is based on a much broader concept than the class. In order to make successful progress in a relationship, group, or organization we have to listen to the needs of others and act on those needs. Only then will we be able make gains in whatever it is we are trying to achieve.
Thanks so much for an awesome semester and a great class!